Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gutless U.S. courts should follow California's example

Wow! It's sad when your political leaders fail to protect you and your community from discrimination. But when gutless courts defer to those politicians who instituted discrimination in the first place, what recourse do we have? This is the reality in which many LGBT citizens in the United States (and in most countries) continue to live.

"A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit filed by 12 gay and lesbian veterans who had challenged the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The plaintiffs had all been discharged under the policy, instituted by Congress.

1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey Howard said in the decision issued Monday that while some people may question the wisdom of the policy, the court had to defer to congressional decision making. The policy prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members, but requires discharge of those who acknowledge being gay or engaging in homosexual activity. The plaintiffs argued in their lawsuit that the policy violates their Constitutional rights to privacy, free speech and equal protection."

This U.S. policy is odious and completely unjustified! The gay military ban was lifted in Canada in the early 1990s without much fuss or fanfare.

This deference to legislative authority is simply a license to tolerate discrimination and injustice indefinitely. As we know, the politicians are usually the last to act to remove discrimination against minorities. The rights of minorities always play second fiddle to the urges and inclinations of the majority. It's shameful.

This ruling echoes similar cases in the U.S. where courts have been too gutless to enforce constitutional guarantees of equality (like the recent New York gay marriage case). Thank God the Supreme Court in California is willing to challenge politicians who do the wrong thing.

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